BY CHARLES ABANKWA
RIVERDALE, MD – McKinley Tech’s Rinardo Perry is one of the top scorers in the DMV, but for him and the Trainers to make a push for the DCIAA title, it will take a complete team effort. On Tuesday night they took the next step in that direction, defeating the Parkdale Panthers 73-56 on a night where Perry didn’t have his best scoring output.
“My assistant, Coach Hall has always told the kids be ready when your number is called,” Tech coach Ali Foster said. “Daniel [Allen] actually didn’t play a lot in the previous game but we feel like he’s one of the best freshmen in the DMV. Muhammad [Johnson] had a really good summer, Chima, Montay all of those guys have bought into this team thing and hopefully we can get better over the break and be ready for our league after Christmas.”
From the opening tip, McKinley Tech showed it wasn’t just a one-man show. Alfred Chirambo got Tech on the board first after knocking down a 3-pointer, Chima Osuagwu scored the next six points in a row, and Amontay Matthews would push the team’s lead to 14-4 after being fouled on a breakaway full court lay-up with just under three minutes to play in the first quarter. Perry got into the action scoring his first points of the game a possession later to give the Trainers their largest lead of the game at 16-4.
The young Panthers found a way to respond, closing the quarter on a 7-2 run to bring the game within seven after one.
The Panthers weren’t able to hold onto momentum for long though, as turnovers and fouls gave the Trainers a number of easy scoring opportunities throughout the second quarter. The Trainers went to the free throw line 12 times in the quarter, and came away with seven of its 13 points scored.
Like at the end of the first quarter, the Panthers made a late run. Down by nine points with 1:30 to play in the half, the Panthers cut the Trainers lead to 31-26 going into the half.
Parkdale was finally able to find a rhythm as the third quarter began. Turning defense into offense, the Panthers scored on back to back possessions and cut the Trainers lead to one on three occasions. But the Panthers were never able to take a lead. After a Joacquin Gonzalez mid-range jumper in the short corner put the Trainers up 37-34, Perry finally made his presence felt on the game and in a big way.
After grabbing a rebound on the defensive end, Perry took the ball over half-court, rocking the initial defender back and forth before beating him to the left and taking flight for a monstrous left handed dunk that brought the crowd to its feet. For a moment it seemed as if the Panthers could weather the storm on their home court.
“The whole time going past half-court, I wanted to dunk. So I had to take off,” Perry said.
Immediately following Perry’s throw down, Parkdale answered with a Jamell Moore 3-pointer that cut Tech’s lead to 39-37.
The Panthers continued to keep it close midway through the third quarter. A pair of free throws from Allen extended the Trainers lead back to four before Perry knocked down a deep 3-pointer that gave the Trainers a 48-41 lead and began a 20-2 run that lasted deep into the fourth quarter.
“Jamell More and Rasaq Kadiku were able to get into a little bit of a rhythm, so that was good,” Parkdale coach Tremaine Price said. “Being a young team, we’re going to take strides every game, and we just need to get better. And now it’s just about being consistent."
Perry scored the last two of his game-high 17 points from the free throw line. The free throws gave the Trainers a 68-43 lead with less than four minutes to play. The Panthers put together their last run of the game, this time a 13-5 run to end the game, aided by 10 points from Bernard Rankin.
But in the end, the Trainers were just too much for the Panthers. Eleven players scored at least two points in the game and that type of balance proved to be more than the Panthers could match.
“We have good players on our team believe it or not, if everybody buys in we could be a good team,” Perry said. “If passing and getting my teammates involved is what we got to do to win, then I will do it.”